2017 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Mohammad Saifur Rahman, Purdue University (Krannert)

Mohammad Saifur Rahman

Associate Professor of Management

Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

Mohammad Rahman, the youngest tenured professor at Purdue’s Krannert School, is an expert in Internet commerce, technology usage, retail and web analytics, consumer behavior, and decision making. His work combines massive amounts of data from different sources (e.g., server logs, transactions, U.S. census) to generate insights on how technology drives consumer behavior, and how online and conventional markets are using new channels to compete and target consumers.

He’s best known for his work as the lead organizer for Krannert-Walmart Data Dive, what is believed to be the first data dive on a college campus. In the inaugural event, Professor Rahman worked with the CIO of Walmart to host a national competition with 12 teams from many top universities in the U.S. It’s been praised as a tremendous experience for students and for Walmart executives.

Rahman has been recognized as a Krannert Outstanding and Distinguished Teacher at both undergraduate and master’s levels (2015-present), and in 2015 the Krannert School of Management selected him as the recipient of the Jay N. Ross Young Faculty Scholar Award.

Age: 35

At current institution since: 2014

Education: Ph.D., Management Information Systems, Krannert School of Management, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. 2008; MBA, Management Information Systems, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL. 2004; BS, Computer Science, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL. 2002

List of courses you currently teach: Web Data Analytics, Data-Driven Decisions in Digital Markets

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?

  1. Analyzing consumer debt management strategies in the era of FinTech (e.g., the impact of local financial market structure on peer-to-peer platform borrowers).  Where we live still matters significantly in terms of having better access to funds despite the explosive growth of the Internet and related technologies.
  2. Harnessing the promise of digital traces (e.g., the importance of digital traces in designing AI-driven personal shopping assistants).  It is critical to leverage digital traces to discern when a seemingly helpful web technology is actually detrimental and to measure the impact of such technologies on consumer purchases and returns.

Professor you most admire: It is difficult to name just one professor because many professors have shaped my learning and the way I approach problems and, frankly, life!  However, Professor Prabuddha De stands out because he is a testament of being an independent thinker, demonstrating unwavering faith in fairness prevailing, and deeply appreciating knowledge.  

“I knew I wanted to be a B-school professor when…I realized that I am not a fit for working within the rigid structure of the business world.”

“If I weren’t a B-school professor…I would be running a large conglomerate of philanthropic businesses.”

One word that describes my first time teaching an MBA class: Sleepless

Most memorable moment in the classroom, or in general, as a professor: My 3-year old son’s disbelief when his teacher tried to explain to him that Daddy is a professor and Daddy needs to go to teach his students rather than staying with him in the classroom.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Being able to join my alma mater as a faculty.  This affords me an environment where I am surrounded by smart faculty members and students with a variety of research interests and have the chance to interact with them on a regular basis.

What do you enjoy most about being a business school professor? Many of my students, I suspect, are smarter than me and are likely to have a big impact on the society.  I relish the opportunity to influence them and shape their careers and, thus, have an impact on the world indirectly. I also enjoy the opportunity to share my research findings with regular people or skeptic executives and convince them about the non-intuitive findings related to the ways technology is transforming our lives.

What do you enjoy least about being a business school professor? Dealing with dysfunctional teams.

Fun fact about yourself: I practically always failed in my drawing classes. So, when my son asks me to draw something, I get petrified!

Bucket list item #1: taking a vacation without any phone or internet connection for a week.

Favorite book: Himu (Humayun Ahmed)

Favorite movie: Haven’t watched one recently. Avatar and Home Alone.

Favorite type of music: Rock/Pop-Rock (Bryan Adams, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi), Bangla Pop (James, Souls, Renaissance), and Bangla Folk Music.

Favorite television show: Haven’t owned a TV for a long time.  The X-Files and Friends.

Favorite vacation spot: Victoria Island, BC, Canada

What are your hobbies? It is hard to find time for a hobby that requires continuous time investment.  I like traveling and still like to have a vegetable garden but don’t have the time to nurture it regularly.  

Twitter handle: None

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would…become a place where norms and boundaries are challenged constantly by creative and independent thinkers – faculty and students.”

Students say:

“Professor Rahman is one of the few young and dynamic teachers at Krannert. Every Management School needs professors like Mohammed Rahman who are strict ( yeah strict is good for learning!), humble yet on the cutting edge of their fields. I am sure what I have learned from him would be relevant long after I graduate.​”

“Surprisingly, he makes even MBA students comfortable in programming and unleashes their potential in big data analytics, a highly sought-after skill in industry. He is one of the rarest professors who makes students comfortable in analytical thinking! His great personality and willingness to help make him a key ingredient in the Krannert School of Management.”


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